Cisco, Nivis demo 6LoWPAN sensor network

Cisco and Nivis this week demonstrated an operational wireless IP mesh network using the low-power IPv6 protocol, dubbed 6LoWPAN.

Using Nivis wireless sensors and routers, the demonstration network linked a parking meter with several streetlights, a sensor ring in a parking space, and what was described as a Cisco cell phone. The arrangement was used to communicate to the driver that a parking space was available, and in another instance that the meter had expired. The same system could be used to alert security details to turn on parking garage lights, or provide traffic meter staff with information about expired or inoperable meters.

Nivis, an Atlanta-based, privately held company launched in 1998, specializes in sensor networks, supporting an array of standard sensing and control protocols such as WirelessHART and ISA100.11a, and most recently 6LoWPAN. The company supplies wireless sensors, edge routers, a management appliance and application, and a gateway to plant or other enterprise networks. 6LoWPAN is an IETF draft standard (in which Cisco has been an active player) for IPv6 communication over IEEE 802.15.4 wireless nets, operating in the 2.4GHz band. Specifically designed for low-power applications, it can be used in sensors, instruments, even handhelds. It has builtpin AES-128-bit encryption.

The goal of the work is to bring what are often proprietary control and sensing networks fully into the IP fold, with endpoints directly addressable by back-end enterprise applications.

Vendors in this market include Arch Rock, which offers a similar set of capabilities to create 6LoWPAN sensor networks and link them with IPv4 or IPv6 enterprise infrastructures. The vendor uses a services-oriented architecture, enabling an array of applications that support Web services to directly draw data from the sensors.

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